The difference between portfolio management, program management and multi-project management
When I met my first "real" program manager back in 2005, I was impressed. This guy was intelligent, kind and IT savvy — a jack of all trades, managing a program with an 8-figure budget. He was the one to tell me that the difference between multi-project management and program management is that a program aims to generate more value than the sum of all projects would individually.
Project Portfolio Management
has a strategic perspective on the whole organization. It is about selecting and monitoring the right investments that promote the company's strategy. This means that the organization is aligning its operative focus to the strategic objectives. i.e., strategic alignment. Furthermore, a portfolio has a clear start and end — independent of the duration of the projects in it. It can be considered a fiscal cut or fiscal budget.
The following graph summarizes Traditional PPM nicely. It shows that projects are collected, decided upon and then executed.
Cf. Dammer, Henning (2007): Multiprojektmanagement.
focuses on executing a bundle of projects that align with a common goal. In combination, these projects create more value than the sum of all the projects would individually. The program coordinator focuses on coordinating resource demands, schedules and results. A program lasts until the final projects end. Programs usually take a long time — at least months. Complex programs can span across many years and budget cycles.
refers to the discipline of carrying out multiple projects at a time while trying to ensure that every project reaches its goals. In contrast to program management, where all projects work towards a common goal and typically have dependencies, a project coordinator allocates shared resources or skills across different projects, even if they are unrelated.
Make sure to check out this detailed article about the difference between project portfolio management and program management here.